String Project Faculty, after Fall Concert 2013

Behind every great teacher, there’s another great teacher

2019 – 2020 String Project Faculty

Dr. Laurie Scott

String Project Director

Dr. Scott with studentLaurie Scott is Associate Professor of Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, she serves as the director of The University of Texas String Project and the Musical Lives string program at UT Elementary School. As a university professor she has received both the Teaching Excellence Award from the School of Music and from the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. A former middle and high school orchestra director, she now mentors young professionals toward successful lives as string educators.  She is co-author with William Dick of the textbooks, Mastery for Strings, Level One and Two, and Learning Together: Sequential Repertoire for Solo Strings or String Ensembles, co-authored with William Dick and Winfred Crock. Her publication, From the Stage to the Studio: How Fine Performers become Great Teachers, is co-authored with Cornelia Watkins. In every facet of her teaching Dr. Scott serves as an advocate for inclusive and diverse music classrooms, adult music learners, and access to quality music instruction for children in underserved communities. She is a registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and continues to maintain a private violin studio. Her former students have become exemplary string educators, professional studio and symphony musicians, and passionate arts advocates.

Dana Wygmans, double bass

Program Coordinator

In addition to working for the UT Austin String Project, Dana is a private bass teacher, educator with Austin Soundwaves , and director of the Prelude Orchestra with Austin Youth Orchestra. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, she received a Bachelor of Music Education from Alma College. She moved to Austin in 2013 and earned her Master’s in Double Bass Performance from UT Austin in 2015, where she first met Dr. Laurie Scott and taught with String Project. Dana began playing violin in the fifth grade, but after discovering the double bass in middle school she found her true love! Before returning to String Project as the Program Coordinator, she was the Director of Orchestras at Murchison Middle School. You can find Dana playing her bass all over Austin and performing with the orchestra folk band American Dreamer. In her spare time, Dana loves to spend time crafting, hanging out with her cats, and taking care of plants.

Anthony Mariano, guitar

Guitar Coordinator20161029-Teachers2Chris-11

Growing up in New Mexico, Anthony Mariano has been recognized as a premiere guitarist in the Albuquerque area, receiving the position of Concertmaster for the second annual New Mexico All-State Guitar Ensemble in 2011. Anthony finished his Bachelor’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2105 under the instruction of David Tanenbaum, where he had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s finest guitarists. He was chosen by the faculty in 2013 to perform in the school’s annual Guitarrada, an event featuring music played on some of the world’s finest historical guitars. Currently, Anthony is a member of graduate program at the University of Texas Butler School of Music under the instruction of Adam Holzman.

Anthony strongly believes that music is an invaluable part of life, and he takes great pleasure in teaching that art to people of all ages. His primary goal as a classical guitar teacher is to provide his students with the ability to connect and interact with what they feel, and to provide them with the opportunity to share that experience with others. As both a private instructor and an ensemble conductor, Anthony tries to instill in his students an appreciation for both music, and the process of working hard, focusing, and interacting well with others in a group.

Augie Gmitter, bass

Ashley Wang, cello

Ashley Wang is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Studies with a Recognition in Cello Performance at the University of Texas at Austin under Professor Bion Tsang. She started her cello studies at age 8 with Eleonora Lopez, and later her husband, Emmanuel Lopez when she started high school. In addition to cello, she has been studying piano since she was four and a half years old.

Ashley is equally passionate about performing and teaching music. She has started teaching cello and piano private lessons since 2015. Ashley has completed training for Suzuki book 1 in cello with Dr. Alice Ann O’Neill (2018) and Book 2 and 3 with Dr. Andrea Yun (2019) at DFWWOW. She strongly believes in encouraging her students to become the best they can be in a healthy and productive learning environment.

Ashley has played in Lab orchestra, University Orchestra, and Symphony Orchestra at UT Austin. She is heavily involved in chamber music at UT and has founded her own piano trio of 3 years. She has worked closely with Maestro Dr. Mark Bartley, played in masterclasses with Madeleine Kabat and Kenneth Freudigman, and received coachings from the Harrington String Quartet and Miró String Quartet. She has also performed with the Chamber Music Amarillo Virtuosi Orchestra alongside Professor Jeffrey Lastrapes. In May 2016, she toured with the WTAMU Symphony Orchestra in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest as assistant principal cellist. Ashley loves to cook, eat good food, and go on adventures with her friends and family.

Avalon Nemec, general music

Avalon Brimat Nemec is pursuing a Masters in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Temple University, where she studied French horn with Daniel Williams, second hornist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. After graduating from Temple University in 2014, Avalon was the General Music and Choir teacher at Folk Arts-Cultur

al Treasures Charter School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Throughout her 5 years of teaching, she held regular gigs in the Philadelphia area as a hornist, brass quartet leader, and church singer.

Avalon’s career interests include Orff-Schulwerk, folk arts education, and multicultural music education. She looks forward to publishing an article on co-teaching practices with a community artist (Spring 2020) and teaching early childhood music classes while in graduate school. Avalon is passionate about and committed to social justice in schools, caring for the community in which she teaches, and treasuring music and the arts as a necessary (and wonderful!) part of student learning and life.

Clara Suh, violin

Daniel Kopp, cello


Cellist Daniel Kopp is an active performer, educator, and arts organizer in Austin, Texas. He is the artistic director of Austin Camerata, a chamber music festival that brings collaborations of music, dance, and storytelling to venues in central Texas. Daniel has performed across the country at festivals including Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, and Aspen Music Festival. In 2015 he made his Carnegie Hall debut as principal cellist of the New York String Orchestra Seminar. Daniel is on the sublist with the Houston Symphony and Austin Symphony, and he teaches cello with the UT String Project and Clavier-Werke School of Music. He holds degrees in music performance from Rice University and the University of Texas, Austin.

David Saccardi, bass

David Saccardi is a PhD student in Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches in the UT String Project in addition to his doctoral studies and research.  He holds a Bachelors in Music Education and a Bachelors in Double Bass Performance from Colorado State University, and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Michigan.  He is an active adjudicator and clinician, having worked with orchestras in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Michigan, and Texas, as well as presenting at the state MEA conferences in Colorado and Wyoming.  He has also been published in the journal of the American String Teachers Association.

Prior to coming to Texas, David taught middle school and high school orchestra in Loveland, Colorado, where during his tenure, the program grew to over 300 students and received numerous awards and Superior marks at state contest.  Additionally, the orchestras from Loveland High School were recognized at the state level for both their academic achievements by the Colorado High School Activities Association, and for their excellence in musical theatre performance for the pit orchestra’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

David has been an avid performer and teacher of the double bass for nearly twenty years.  Before moving to Austin, David performed with the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, the Greeley Philharmonic, the Steamboat Springs Symphony Orchestra, and served as Principal Double Bass of the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Symphony Orchestra.  He has also trained numerous young bassists, many of whom have been selected as Colorado Allstate Principal Bassist, and others still who have received scholarships to pursue musical study at the university level.

David lives in Austin with his wife, Claire, and their Golden Retriever, Harper.  Together, they enjoy traveling, cooking, being dog parents, being outdoors, and tacos.  Mostly tacos.

Emma Edwards, early childhood education

Emma Edwards is in her third year of study at the Butler School of Music. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Music Studies with a Recognition in French Horn performance under the study of Patrick Hughes. As a student at the Butler School, Emma has participated in numerous ensembles, including The University of Texas Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Lab Orchestra, and University Orchestra. Additionally, Emma has performed with the UT Horn Choir, Longhorn Marching Band, and serves as the chorister for the Mu Theta chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon.

Although she now considers herself to be primarily a hornist, Emma has studied piano since the age of 5 and finds herself at the keyboard frequently. In addition to these, Emma has also studied voice, and more recently, guitar, privately. As a teacher, Emma focuses on exploring musical concepts through a broad range of medians, and has a particular interest in Early Childhood Music Education.

In her free time, Emma enjoys reading, spoiling her cat, Beau, as well as playing music around the Austin area. Emma has been teaching Early Childhood Music with the UT String Project since Fall 2018, and is currently completing training with MusicTogether and the Austin Suzuki Institute.

Henry Johnston, guitar

Henry Johnston, born in 1997, began studying guitar at the age of 6 with his father, Alan Johnston. In 2009 he won second place in the Guitar Foundation of America’s
International Guitar Competition, in the junior division. In April of 2011, Henry performed at the Fitzgerald Theatre in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota as one of five winners of MN Varsity, Minnesota Public
Radio’s 1st annual competition for young classical singers and instrumentalists. Later that same month, Henry became the youngest guitarist ever to win first prize in the Schubert Club Competition in St. Paul, at the age of 14.

In October of 2016, he won first prize in the Texas A&M International Guitar Competition, and was a finalist in the Indiana Guitar Competition. In March of 2017, he won second prize in the Florida Guitar Foundation guitar competition. In April of 2018, he was selected by the University of Texas System Board of Regents as a
recipient of the Regents’ Outstanding Student Awards in Arts and Humanities. He was invited to the Aspen Music Festival during the summer of 2019, where he spent a month studying under Sharon Isbin.

Evan Taucher, guitar

American classical guitarist Evan Taucher was born in 1992 and began studying the classical guitar at age 19. Since then, he has won numerous prizes in national and international competitions and has received worldwide acclaim.

During his two years of study with Cuban virtuoso Rene Izquierdo, Taucher won 8 separate prizes in professional competitions throughout the United States including 1st prizes in the Schubert Club Competition, Appalachian State Guitar Competition, and the SIYAO instrumental competition where he competed against all instruments and ensembles. In 2017 and 2019, Taucher was awarded grants from the U.S. Embassy to represent the United States at the GuitarArt festival in Belgrade, Serbia. In the summers of 2014 and 2015, he performed at Busch Gardens Tampa on both solo classical and electric guitar with the award-winning Burn the Floor dance company. Taucher was also the first guitarist to enter the University of Texas at Austin’s prestigious Artist Diploma program where he currently studies with Adam Holzman. In 2018, Taucher was chosen from all North American applicants as the Magellan Scholar which funded his studies at the Universitat d’Alacant in Spain for a Máster en Interpretación de Guitarra Clásica.

Taucher holds a Bachelor of Music from Florida State University where he studied with Bruce Holzman, as well as a Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with Rene Izquierdo. During his studies, Taucher had classes with musical luminaries such as John Williams, Alvaro Pierri, Sergio and Odair Assad, Aniello Desiderio, and Jakob Lindberg among others.

Taucher is passionate about sharing music on stages around the world, with two upcoming performances after his return to the USA, first at the Grand Rapids International Concert Artist Series and next as a guest artist at Guitar Sarasota. Taucher also strives to connect the vast guitar community through social media – namely Instagram and YouTube where he’s gained a large musical audience. Taucher hosts live-streamed technique classes as well as competitions targeted at connecting guitarists with young composers. Taucher also composed and recently had his piece “Three Scents” featured on the series “Born and Played”

Taucher is a D’Addario Artist and is sponsored by Accord Cases and Soundbrenner, and plays a guitar made by American luthier Steven Walter.

Hanson Yong, intern

Hanson Yong is a first year Music Studies major pursuing his Bachelor’s at the University of Texas at Austin. In high school, Hanson played in the Plano Senior High School Chamber Orchestra, the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, and was a four time TMEA All Region and All State orchestra member. More recently, Hanson was a part of the UT University Orchestra and UT Symphony Orchestra. He studied double bass under David Odegaard, Gudrun Raschen, DaXun Zhang and is continuing his studies with Joel Braun.

Hanson’s goal in teaching is to give students the ability to express themselves through their music and develop an appreciation of music.

In his free time, Hanson enjoys live music, searching for vintage clothes, and rooting for the Boston Celtics.

Jackson Hocott, bass

James Suter, bass

Jamey Strauss, violin

Jamey Strauss is a sophomore violinist at the Butler School of Music majoring in Music Studies. He graduated from Lake Travis High School in 2018, and participated in All-Region and All-State orchestras. Jamey studies in the studio of Sandy Yamamoto at UT, and is a member of the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. Jamey has studied chamber music extensively in both the CHAMPS program in Austin and the chamber music program at UT. Apart from classical music, he also plays western swing and classic country music on violin. He played with the Lake Travis Fiddlers in high school and currently plays with The Rewinders.


Jane Etherington, violin & viola

Violinist Jane Etherington is from Salt Lake City, Utah and received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Utah in 2018 where she studied under the instruction of Lynnette Stewart and Kasia Sokol-Borup. Jane also placed significant emphasis on studying string pedagogy under Dr. Sokol-Borup and has taught violin privately for five years and for two semesters at the String Preparatory Division at the Univeristy of Utah. During two semesters, Jane worked through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program researching early women composers and adapting their music for beginner to advanced violin students.

When she’s not teaching, Jane enjoys hiking through Utah mountains, painting, and loves all plants.

Jen McKeeman, viola

Jennifer McKeeman is pursuing her Masters in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a Batchelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Texas at Austin where she had the privilege to study viola with Roger Myers and music education with Dr. Laurie Scott and Dr. Robert Duke. 

A native Austinite, Jennifer began playing viola in sixth grade in South Austin. She owes her inspiration to become a music teacher to the incredible music directors and private lessons teachers that she had studied with while in public school orchestra. Jennifer has taught privately in the Austin and San Antonio areas since 2010 with a broad range of ages and experience levels. She has had the honor of attending various summer music festivals including the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Marrowstone Music Festival, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. 

Most recently, Jennifer was the Orchestra Director at David Lee “Tex” Hill Middle School in San Antonio, TX for four years. Jennifer started when the school first opened, building the orchestra and fifth grade strings programs from the ground up. The Tex Hill Orchestras have earned consistent UIL Sweepstakes in addition to multiple “Best in Class” and “Overall Outstanding” honors in festivals held in New Braunfels, TX and Corpus Christi, TX.

Jennifer is thrilled to be back in her hometown doing what she loves: teaching and studying music. Her philosophy that any child can and should play music with excellence and joy is behind all of her teaching moments. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys writing, seeing live music, and spending time with friends and family.

Jessica MacNair, violin

Jessica is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Music and Human Learning at the University of Texas. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied with Dr. Rebecca MacLeod. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, she taught middle school orchestra in Concord, North Carolina for five years. 

Jessica is an active member of the American Strings Teachers Association. She served on the leadership board of her state chapter and was awarded the George Bornoff Memorial Scholarship to attend national conference. Jessica is passionate about providing equitable access to string music education in underserved communities. She received her Suzuki Violin Book 1 training from Ronda Cole. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys hiking, traveling and gardening.

Jillian Johnson, violin

Violinist ​Jillian Johnson​, 20, a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA), currently studies at the University of Texas at Austin with Brian Lewis and the ​Miró Quartet under full scholarship. Jillian has performed in venues including the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. ​She teaches with the UT String Project, directed by Dr. Laurie Scott. She performed in masterclasses for Rachel Barton Pine, Giora Schmidt, Oleh Krysa, James Buswell, Philip Setzer, and others. Jillian has enjoyed chamber music collaborations with contemporary ensemble eighth blackbird, Condoleezza Rice, and Chloé Trevor. Jillian served as concertmaster for the ​premiere of “The Three Musketeers” by Michael Thurber on From The Top Live with Christopher O’Riley, played in the Austin New Music Co-Op, and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. She ​recently engaged in solo performances with the Las Vegas Young Artists Academy Orchestra and the Nevada School of the Arts Chamber Orchestra. Over the summer, Jillian has attended the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Center Stage Strings, and the Starling-Delay Symposium at Juilliard. As an orchestral musician, Jillian has performed with the Canton Symphony and Henderson Symphony Orchestra. When she’s not performing or teaching, Jillian enjoys reading, painting, and cooking.

Joanna Ross, cello

Joanna Ross is a junior at the University of Texas pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Studies with a minor in Educational Psychology. Originally from Cypress, Texas, she began her cello studies in her middle school orchestra program. Soon after her introduction to the cello, she started studying privately with Sam Matthews and later with Patrick Moore. While in high school, teaching private lessons to younger students helped her realize her passion for teaching and helping others. In her time with the String Project, she has held the position of Instrument Room Steward along with teaching classes and private lessons. Over the past two summers, Joanna completed training in Suzuki Cello books 1, 2, and 3 under the instruction of Alice Ann O’Neill and Andrea Yun. In addition to her cello studies, she enjoys singing in the UT University Chorus, and is an active member of the Mu Theta chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon. In the rare occasion that Joanna is not at the music building, she loves crafting, trying new vegan restaurants around Austin, and spending time with her favorite cat, Louis.

Justin Lader, viola

Justin Lader is a graduate student pursuing the PhD program in Music in Human Learning at UT Austin.  Mr. Lader holds a Master’s Degree in Viola Performance from the University of Oregon and received his Bachelor’s of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory.  His principal teachers have been Leslie Straka, Peter Slowik, Karen Ritscher, and Roger Chase.  Besides expertise in classical music, he is a specialist in Middle-Eastern improvisation, Celtic fiddle, and electronic music.

Mr. Lader began teaching private lessons in 2008 while completing his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He served as orchestra department coordinator and faculty instructor at the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts – Community Music School from 2009-2017, teaching both violin and viola.  From 2010-2016 Mr. Lader served as an Adjunct Instructor teaching private lessons, coaching chamber music and group classes at the University of Oregon’s Community Music Institute and Suzuki Strings Program.  From 2013-2014 Mr. Lader taught world music at the The Village School, a Public Charter School inspired by Waldorf Education, in Eugene, Oregon.  From 2014 to 2019 he conducted the strings program at the Eugene Waldorf School.  In 2015 he created, directed, and taught at The Shedd Institutes Chamber Strings camp.  The summer of 2016 he taught and directed The Shedd’s Chamber Music Camp, in addition to the Beginning Strings Camp.  Also in the summer of 2016, he was also a guest instructor at the Off The Hook Arts Summer Music Workshop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

As a freelance artist Mr. Lader regularly performs throughout the West Coast with renowned Celtic Harper, David Helfand.  The duo performs original and traditional music that is influenced by Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Indian styles.  Together with David Helfand, the duo has released three albums, “Through the Portal,” “From a Distant Time: Inspirations from the Celtic Lands,’ and “After the Rain.”

Other collaborative projects include recording and performing with Jake McNeillie and Company, This Patch of Sky, We Have A Ghost, and Albert Howell.  Additionally, Mr. Lader performs outreach work with CardioStart International, offering live concerts to support the organization’s mission in providing free heart surgeries in developing countries.

Laura Aldana, cello

Cellist Laura Vanessa Aldana is a native of Bogota, Colombia. She started her music education at the age of 6 at the Bogota Foundation Youth Symphony Orchestra.

In 2009 she joined the Pre Conservatory program at the National University of Colombia where she studied with Diego Garcia. She was awarded full scholarship during the eight years that she studied there. For four years she was part of the Youth Orchestra of the conservatory, where she was the principal of the cello section. In 2016, Laura moved to the United States to join the Pre-Conservatory Program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School where she studied with Professor Tanya Remenikova at the University of Minnesota.

Laura Aldana has been awarded full scholarships to attend a number of Music festivals including the Intentional Cello Institute at St. Olaf College (2017-2018), Bravo! Summer String Music Camp held at Shattuck School (2017), the 2016 Esmeraldas International Music festival (Ecuador), among others. She won Honorable Mention at the Thursday musical competition, she played as one of the finalist of the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra Association (YPSCA) held by the Minnesota Orchestra and she was awarded a special music grant by the Schubert Club Organization.

Laura will continue her music studies with Prof. Bion Tsang at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. Laura has performed in master classes for Emmanuel Feldman, Mark Kosower, Kurt Baldwin, Bruce Uchimura, Silver Ainomae, Anthony Ross, Peter Schmidt, Francisco Vila, Horacio Contreras, among others.

Luciano Monaco, guitar

Luciano Monaco, born in Campobasso (Italy) in 1990, started his classical guitar studies at the Conservatorio “L. Perosi” in Campobasso tutored by Pasqualino Garzia. He accomplished the ten-year course of study in seven years, graduating with honors under the tutelage of Alessandro Paris. Then, Luciano achieved his Master of Arts in Music Performance at Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano tutored by Lorenzo Micheli and attended the masterclass at Chigiana Academy in Siena in Oscar Ghiglia’s studio.

He has played solo recitals in Europe and the United States and has received top prizes in international competitions. In 2017, Luciano completed the Graduate Diploma at the New England Conservatory in Boston with Eliot Fisk and Jerome Mouffe. He is now pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts at University of Texas at Austin in Adam Holzman’s studio.

Madalyn Marabella, early childhood education

Madalyn has lived in Austin, Texas all her life and has played violin since she was seven years old. She is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin and studies Management Information Systems. At UT, she has played in the Volunteer Chamber Orchestra and an ensemble organized by the Engineering Chamber Orchestra. Madalyn attended string project in elementary school and is very excited to be back as an Early Childhood teacher!

Matthew Gustafson, cello

Melody Lihou, intern

Nick Hurt, guitar

Nick Hurt grew up in Austin, Texas swimming in Barton Springs and playing a Stratocaster.  As a kid, Nick played in bands that gigged around Austin in venues that are now just fond memories.  He also drove around the country in a van and made records with his band, Speak.  For college, Nick decided to become a nerd and focused on the classical guitar and music education at the University of Texas.  Nick now lives in Marfa where he plays guitar, teaches guitar, and sings with Janelle.  He also hosts a classical music show on Marfa Public Radio called In Tune. In Tune asks the question – “what is classical music?” – by exploring the diverse, sometimes confounding genre of classical music through themes and history.

Rey Rodriguez, intern

Roger Graves, bass

Roger Graves is a DMA student at the Butler School of Music, studying under the tutelage of Joel Braun. Roger completed his Master’s degree with Professor Braun at Ball State University in Indiana, and his Bachelor’s at Murray State University in Kentucky. Roger has performed with several regional orchestras in Indiana, including the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra, and others. He is currently performing with the Central Texas Philharmonic Orchestra while studying at UT.

Roger began studying the bass in college as a euphonium major at Murray State. His original studies were under the tutelage of previous cello professor Jinhee Han. Roger’s love for performing in orchestra turned into a love for performing on the bass, which eventually took the place as his major instrument from euphonium in future study.

Aside from music, Roger also holds a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Ball State University.

Roxy Moore, intern

Ruben Balboa, viola & violin

Ruben Balboa III, violist, is an active chamber musician, recitalist, and educator in the Austin area.  In 2017, Balboa made his Bass Hall solo debut at the Festival of the Orchestras hosted by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and participated in the Montecito International Music Festival. 

Balboa has recently performed with the Dallas Opera, Las Colinas Symphony, Round Rock Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, San Angelo Symphony and has performed and recorded with artists such as The Antiques, Andres Cardenas, Celtic Thunder, Evanescence, Josh Groban, Lena Hall, Eugene Rousseau, Lindsey Stirling, Yizhak Schotten, Brooke Waggoner, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. 

While studying for his masters degree, he performed with the Bancroft String Quartet, an elite graduate ensemble at the University of North Texas, where they placed as a semi-finalist in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition and Festival.   Other past achievements include: Texas State Concerto Competition winner and performing as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra.

As an educator, Balboa is frequently hired as a guest clinician for string methods and orchestral techniques, on faculty at the University of Texas String Project and Austin Chamber Music Center, is a member of both the American String Teachers Association and American Viola Society, and is a founding teacher for the Texas State String Project. 

Balboa is currently a doctoral student at the University of Texas where he studies with Professor Roger Myers and has earned his Master of Music degree at the University of North Texas under the tutelage of Dr. Susan Dubois and Dr. George Papich, and his Bachelor of Music degree from Texas State University-San Marcos under Dr. Ames Asbell.

Sara Aldana, violin

Sara Melissa Aldana is a senior at The University of Texas and is pursuing a degree in violin performance through the Butler School of Music. A native of Bogota, Colombia, Sara spent four years as concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra of the National University of Colombia and toured Spain with the National University of Colombia Orchestra. She has been a member of the Bogota Foundation Symphony Orchestra, the Bogota Youth Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Clara Schumann Women’s Orchestra.

In 2019 Sara had ​the opportunity to perform Saint Saens Violin Concerto with the Austin Civic Orchestra as a winner of the Austin Civic Orchestra-BSoM Texas Rising Stars Strings Competition. ​In 2017 Sara won the Concerto Competition at the Butler School of Music which gave her the opportunity to perform the Barber Violin Concerto with the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, Sara won the Luis Angel Arango Library’s Youth Performer National Competition in Colombia. She was awarded the “Codabow Prize” in the Mary West Solo Competition in 2014. The following year, she won Grand Prize and First Place Senior Division at the Mankato Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition and Honorable Mention at Thursday Musical Competition. In 2016, Sara was named as a finalist for both the Schubert Club and Schmidbauer Young Artist competitions.

Throughout the years, Sara has been offered full scholarships to attend summer music
festivals that include Kent/Blossom Music Festival (2016 and 2017), Bravo! Summer String and Keyboard Institute at the University of Minnesota (2014 and 2015), Cartagena Music Festival in Colombia (2014), Sewanee Summer Music Festival at the University of the South (2013), Santa Catarina Music Festival in Brazil (2013), Campos do Jordao International Music Festival in Brazil (2012), and the first Meeting of Latin American Suzuki Students in Peru (2010).

Sara is a student of Professor Brian Lewis as the recipient of the Starling Distinguished Violinist Scholarship. She previously studied with Sally O’Reilly as part of the Pre-Conservatory Program at Shattuck-St.Mary’s School, Liz Angela Garcia at the National University of Colombia, and Marcelino Prats at the National University of Colombia.

Sara currently plays on a violin graciously loaned by the Virtu Foundation.

Sarah Uy, intern

Sarah Uy is a violinist pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Studies under Sandy Yamamoto. She began studying the violin when she was five and hasn’t stopped since! Coming from the suburbs of Chicago, she took part in multiple music organizations at school and in the city.  In high school, she was in Neuqua Valley’s Chamber Strings, Symphony Orchestra, Musical Pit Orchestra, and Tri-M. In addition, Uy became a Guided Practice Teacher her sophomore year, serving as a private lesson teacher to middle school students in the district. As a senior, Sarah was given the National Senior in Orchestra Award, Outstanding Senior in Music Award, and the Charles Staley Scholarship from her school. She is a four time district ILMEA Region and All-State participant, achieving the Honors level for her junior and senior years. In downtown Chicago, she was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) for seven years and traveled to Europe twice with the capstone orchestra. She was also involved in CYSO’s Chamber Music program, which included venturing to local Chicago Public Schools and giving presentations for elementary school students with little to no exposure to music programs.

Sarah is passionate about giving students equal opportunities and promoting change through education. She also loves the visual arts, and is looking to pursue a minor in Studio Art during her time at UT. In her free time, Sarah loves to try new musical instruments, do arts and crafts, and spend time with her dog.

Shruthi Kattumenu, violin

A native of Plano, Texas, Shruthi Kattumenu began playing the violin at the age of four with Ms. Nicolette Solomon and further continued her violin studies with Mr. Jan Mark Sloman.

Recently, Shruthi received her Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance from the Butler School of Music where she studied under Professor Brian Lewis. She is continuing her studies at The University of Texas in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Violin Performance with Professor William Fedkenheuer. During her time at The University of Texas at Austin, she has served as principal of The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra, played leadership roles as part of the Butler Opera Center and UT Lab Orchestra, and been selected to take part in the Intensive Seminar led by the Miro Quartet.

Throughout the years, she has been fortunate to study both solo and chamber music with Almita and Roland Vamos, Ko Iwasaki, Pamela Mia Paul, Frank Almond, Laurie Smukler, Cho-Liang Lin, Giora Schmidt, Sergiu Luca, and members of the Miro Quartet among others. These experiences with highly gifted performers and educators have strongly shaped Shruthi’s musical and teaching philosophy. Her methods center around communication, and how best to connect student, teacher, parent, and audience in this art form.

Outside of school, Shruthi subs in the Waco Symphony and Canton Symphony, collaborates with and premieres works by emerging composers, and teaches violin privately. She is also a faculty member of the UT String Project, where she currently teaches individual lessons, theory classes, group classes, and mixed ensemble groups.

Wei Lin, violin

Wei Lin is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Violin Performance at the University of Texas at Austin under Professor Sandy Yamamoto. He received his Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under Professor Kevin Lawrence, and his Bachelor’s from China Conservatory of Music under Professor Hui Jin. Wei Lin began his professional musical studies with the violinist of the China Philharmonic Orchestra Li Chen in The Affiliated Middle School of China Conservatory of Music in 2007.

During his undergraduate study, He won prizes constantly. In 2015, he won the 2nd Prize of China conservatory Scholarship Award, a National Endeavor Fellowship and the Excellent Student Award of Beijing. In August of 2015, he attended the third Hong Kong International String Competition and won the Silver Prize. He was also in China Conservatory String Project, taught in Houshayu Elementary school. Wei Lin joined in the China Youth Philharmonic Orchestra as second violin Associate Principal and, performed chamber music with famous musicians throughout Beijing. In 2015, he traveled with China Youth Philharmonic Orchestra to Italy. In 2016, he won full scholarship to attend Asian Youth Orchestra, as first violin player, and toured around Asia with conductor James Judd and Richard Pontzious in Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, China.

In 2017, Wei attended University of North Carolina School of the Arts as Chrysalis Institute Scholar, he was the first violin in UNCSA Giannini String Quartet. During his Master’s study, he was the concertmaster/principal second violin in UNCSA orchestra. After his Master’s study, he received full scholarship to attend 2019 Gonggeng Music Festival.

Yvonne Davila, violin

Yvonne DavilaYvonne Davila is originally from Chicago, Illinois and began Suzuki violin at the age of five. She attended DePaul University and received her B.M. in Music Business and Violin Performance under Joseph Genualdi. During that time, she had the opportunity to substitute for the Chicago Civic Orchestra. She received her M.M. in Violin Performance at UW-Madison under Vartan Manoogian. Yvonne has appeared as a soloist at the AIMS Music Festival in Solsona, Spain and at the Rural Musicians Forum in Spring Green, WI. While in WI, she was a member of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and a substitute with The Madison Symphony Orchestra. Yvonne has served as an Adjunct Instructor at Ripon College, conducted an elementary string orchestra in McFarland, Wisconsin and established Suzuki violin studios in both Madison and Spring Green. Yvonne is currently a doctoral candidate in Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin. She is a middle school Orchestra Director in Round Rock, TX and an experienced Suzuki method violin teacher. She teaches at The University of Texas at Austin String Project, which she has also served as Preschool Coordinator and Assistant Director. She is an active clinician and has presented her work at the Suzuki of the Americas Association, American String Teacher of America conferences, and Texas Music Educators Association. Her research focuses on children’s musical development, parental education, and children’s musical achievement.